Perinatal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medication (SSRI) effects on social behaviors, neurodevelopment and the epigenome

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HIGHLIGHTSSerotonin and SSRIs are mediators of maternal care-giving behaviors.Perinatal SSRIs affect development of play, social, and reproductive behaviors.Perinatal SSRIs and maternal stress alter the developing serotonergic system.Perinatal SSRIs alter neuroplasticity and epigenetic profiles in offspring.Recent research has linked early life exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor medications (SSRIs) to modifications of social behaviors in children. Serotonin is a key regulator of neurodevelopment, social behaviors and mental health, and with the growing use of SSRIs to treat maternal affective disorders during the perinatal period, questions have been raised about the benefits and risks of perinatal SSRI exposure on the developing child. This review will highlight how perinatal SSRIs affect maternal care and neurodevelopmental outcomes related to social affiliative behaviors in offspring; such as play behaviors, social interactions, reproductive behaviors, and maternal care of the next generation. We will also review how early life exposure to SSRIs can alter related neurobiology, and the epigenome. Both clinical research and findings from animal models will be discussed. Understanding the impact of perinatal SSRIs on neurobehavioral outcomes will improve the health and well-being of subsequent generations.

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